Hartwell T. Doughty and the War’s First Shot

30 May

The USS Ward, 1918

When Lieut. Cmdr. H. T. Doughty arrived in San Francisco to assume duties as Executive Officer of the USS Tryon, he had something that he was justifiably proud of – just months before he had been serving as exec aboard the USS Ward when she fired the first shots of the war against the Japanese.

Auxiliary Distributing Valve For Locomotives

Early on the morning of December 7, 1941 the Ward was patrolling the entrance to Pearl Harbor; lookouts spotted the conning tower of a Japanese midget submarine. The Ward fired on the sub, sinking it, and in doing so fired the first shots of the Pacific war.

Hartwell Todd Doughty was born on January 23, 1899 in Minnesota. He was raised around Duluth, where his father, Charles, was a lumber inspector and mother, Bessie, was a homemaker. On January 21, 1921 H. T. married Elsie, and they settled in to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to raise their family. He was a draftsman by occupation, and worked for a steam railway company. Hartwell had a bit of an inventor’s bent, and throughout his life developed new solutions to old problems. In 1934 he applied for a patent for what he called an “Auxiliary Distributing Valve For Locomotives.” His application states, “This invention relates to a reciprocating steam engine and particularly to a novel valve structure for such an engine.”

Mothballed destroyers in San Diego Harbor, 1922

Doughty was a member of the Naval Reserve, most likely serving in that organization from his time of service during World War I. Mac Perry reported that Doughty “. . . had had long years of active training in the reserve . . .” With war clouds looming over Europe, and the Japanese saber-rattling in the Pacific, Doughty was a Lieutenant in the 47th Division, 11th Battalion, 9th Naval District U.S. Naval Reserve, St. Paul, MN (1) when it was ordered to active duty January 21, 1941 to become part of the crew of the USS Ward. By December, 1941 H.T. was the Ward’s executive officer. (2) The Ward (DD-139) was a World War I– vintage “four stacker” destroyer, first commissioned in July, 1918. She had been decommissioned in July, 1921 and placed in mothballs in San Diego Harbor, but with the outbreak of war in Europe the Ward was brought back into active service, and was recommissioned in January, 1941.

The Ward

On the morning of December 7, 1941 the USS Ward was patrolling the entrance of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The Ward’s commanding officer was Lieutenant William Woodward Outerbridge, who, having just assumed command of the Ward on December 5 at Pearl Harbor, was on the first patrol of his first command.

The story of the sinking of the midget sub is given in a delightful article taken from the February, 1945 issue “All Hands” Magazine(3), a Navy publication intended for naval personnel. The article, full of hyperbole and written more as a propaganda piece than as a historical document, nonetheless clearly details the events of that fateful morning. H. T. Doughty’s role aboard the ship and involvement in the events of that morning are related in the article (4) :

War’s First Shot – Page 26

War’s First Shot – Page 25

War’s First Shot – Page 24

“A Shot for Posterity — The USS Ward’s number three gun and its crew-cited for firing the first shot the day of Japan’s raid on Hawaii. Operating as part of the inshore patrol early in the morning of December 7, 1941, this destroyer group spotted a submarine outside Pearl Harbor, opened fire and sank her. Crew members are R.H. Knapp – BM2c – Gun Captain, C.W. Fenton – Sea1c – Pointer, R.B. Nolde – Sea1c – Trainer, A.A. De Demagall – Sea1c – No. 1 Loader, D.W. Gruening – Sea1c – No. 2 Loader, J.A. Paick – Sea1c – No. 3 Loader, H.P. Flanagan – Sea1c – No. 4 Loader, E.J. Bakret – GM3c – Gunners Mate, K.C.J. Lasch – Cox – Sightsetter.” The entire gun crew were members of the 47th Division, 11th Battalion, 9th Naval District U.S. Naval Reserve, St. Paul, MN
This gun is a 4″/50 type, mounted atop the ship’s midships deckhouse, starboard side.

On a side note, some historians had questioned whether the Ward actually sunk the midget sub, because evidence of it’s sinking was not found afterward. But in 2002 a search team from the University of Hawaii located the midget sub several miles from the entrance to the harbor in 1,200 feet of water, a single hole penetrating one side of the conning tower and exiting the other, just as the crew of the Ward had indicated. It’s thought that after submerging the two man crew quickly succumbed, and without guidance the sub glided for several miles before settling to the bottom – explaining why it took sixty one years to discover it’s final resting place.(5) (6)

Japanese midget sub as found on the sea floor, 2002

Conning tower of midget sub showing shell hole from Number Three Gun, USS Ward, December 7, 1941

The end of the Ward is among the great ironic stories of World War II: while patrolling at Ormoc Bay, Philippines on December 7, 1944, the Ward was struck amidships by a kamikaze, leaving her dead in the water and engulfed in flames. Unable to control the fires, her captain, Lieut. R. E. Farwell, USNR, made the decision to abandon ship and sink the Ward. That task fell to the destroyer O’Brian, whose commanding officer was William W. Outerbridge, the same Outerbridge who had been skipper aboard the Ward on December 7, 1941, when she sank the midget sub three years earlier to the day. One would think that the prospect of sinking the ship of his first command must have been a bitter pill for Captain Outerbridge, but years later, he recalled that there was little emotion involved in the task: “it just was something that had to be done.”(7)

Officers of the USS O’Brian, 1944. Capt. William W. Outerbridge is seated in the center of front row.

Two days before the September 29, 1942 commissioning of the USS Tryon Lieutenant Commander Doughty arrived in Oakland to assume duties of executive officer. The position of exec had originally been assigned to Lieut. Cmdr. G. J. King, but King had been hospitalized by a sudden illness, and Doughty was ordered to the Tryon as executive officer. King later became the navigator of the Tryon.

It would seem that H.T.’s tenure on the Tryon was a bit controversial, at least based on the account given in “The South Pacific Express.” While Perry was quick to give credit for what Doughty was able to accomplish aboard the Tryon, with a ship-full of inexperienced officers and crew to work with, he also indicates that his method of handling those under him created deep resentment. One example is given when Herman Talmadge, as officer-of-the-deck, maneuvered the Tryon out of the path of an oncoming torpedo: “About 2200, with standard speed at 18 knots, Talmadge [and others] . . .simultaneously sighted the wake of a torpedo, off the starboard bow, headed for the Tryon. Talmadge quickly maneuvered the ship out of the path of the torpedo, and it passed about 100 yards astern, according to the after gun crews and lookouts.

“After the Captain and executive officer had questioned Talmadge and the bridge watch, the exec blasted Herman because he didn’t know the recognition signals without a quick reference to the signal book. Not one word was said to him about his prompt action in maneuvering the ship out of danger and perhaps saving her.”(8)

Whatever the reason, Doughty apparently didn’t leave the crew of the Tryon with warm feelings upon his departure. He was detached from the Tryon on February 7, 1944.

“En route orders came through for Comdr. Doughty. He was ordered to duty at Empress Augustine Bay(9) and was to be relieved by Comdr. Carl Morck, USNR. When the word was “out”, the reaction was amusing. There were smirks on many faces and that night when the exec came into the wardroom for dinner many of the officers were biting their lips to keep the smile off their faces. For Mr. Doughty it was a bitter blow. He made no bones about it. He had been on sea duty since before the declaration of war, was exec on the Ward when she sank the first Jap sub, had had long years of active training in the reserve and felt that he should have a command or at least orders back to the states.

“However, there was no doubt that certain of his actions had gotten to high quarters and that he was more or less unceremoniously “dumped” on the beach. In many respects he had performed a jam-up job aboard the Tryon, and certainly it was the best run transport many of us would travel on during and after the war. He had only green, inexperienced officers to build his organization around but that did not prevent a fine organization being built. There can be no denying that at times his conduct and his treatment of some men was inexcusable, and the delight he took in lowering the boom was puzzling. He “asked for” this change and finally got it. After serving for months in the mud on Guadal, he was sent back to the states for his own command in the closing days of the war.” (10)

Rear Admiral Hartwell T. Doughty

But Perry was willing to let bygones be bygones, and included Doughty in the dedication to “The South Pacific Express” – although, admittedly, paying him a backhanded compliment in the process: “Yes, to H. T. Doughty, that old so-and-so, who made the Tryon the finest transport afloat and made his officers and men hate his guts . . .”(11)

After spending time in Guadalcanal Doughty received command of his own ship, the USS Union, an attack cargo ship (AKA-106). The Union was commissioned on April 25, 1945, and Doughty served as her skipper from that date until March, 1946. Doughty separated from the Navy on November 23, 1946, but before retiring was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.

The USS Union, at Broolyn, April 29, 1945, just a few days after commissioning.

After the Navy H.T. may have worked in the automobile industry – he was living in Michigan at the time of his death, and, ever the inventor, patents he applied for during this period related to the automobile. Whatever the case, Hartwell T. Doughty died in Lithonia, MI on July 4, 1959, at the age of 60. He was buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

Diagram of Japanese midget sub. Note that there is no hatch between the conning tower and the crew space below – which is why a single shot through the sail was able to sink the sub.

First Tire Lug Assembly

Second Tire Lug Assembly

Nailable Assembly – intended for use in freight cars, it was a design that allowed repeated nailing and removal without damage. The design was submitted posthumously by Kathryn B. Doughty, who was executrix of Doughty’s estate.

The Number Three Gun from the deck of the Ward was removed when the Ward was overhauled and refitted for troop transport in mid- 1942. The gun now is part of a memorial to the men of the 47th Division, 11th Battalion, 9th Naval District U.S. Naval Reserve, St. Paul, Minnesota at the Minnisota State Capitol.

Ft. Snelling National Cemetery

H.T. Doughty’s signature affixed to routine paperwork from the USS Tryon. This indicates he was temporarily commanding officer of the Tryon – no doubt while Captain Byrholdt was doing business away from the ship. His designation “DE-V(G)” signifies “Officers of the Volunteer Reserve to the line for general service in deck and engineering duties.”


(1) A complete listing of the men of 47th Division, 11th Battalion, 9th Naval District, St Paul, MN, USNR on U.S.S. Ward is given here:

(2) A very interesting video regarding the USS Ward and the sinking of the midget sub is available on You Tube. It features an interview with one of the members of the crew that was aboard the Ward at that time. It is part of a series of meetings regarding World War II called the “World War II History Roundtable”. Over the years these meetings have covered a broad range of World War II topics, including the sinking of the midget sub on Dec. 7, 1941. In this video Orville S. Ethier, who was a Fireman First Class aboard the Ward, stated that “On January 21, 1941 82 men from St.Paul, and two officers, left to become a part of the crew of the USS Ward.” H.T. Doughty was one of those two officers. Ethier also confirms that Lieut. W.W. Outerbridge was on his first patrol aboard the Ward, having taken over command of the Ward on Dec. 5 at Pearl Harbor, and immediately going back out on patrol.


(3) All Hands Magazine – Magazine of the US Navy:

“The first “issue” of All Hands was printed as the Bureau of Navigation News Bulletin No. 1 (dated Aug. 30, 1922). Twenty years later, the title was changed to Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin. As America claimed “Victory in Europe” on the cover of June 1945, the magazine’s new banner read, All Hands, and the name stuck.

“We believe it’s important to make the Navy’s history, as documented in All Hands, accessible to everyone. In January 2003, we completed a two-year project to archive every back issue (more than 80 years worth) in Adobe Acrobat® format. Since June 2002, every new issue is being offered in both Adobe Acrobat® format and the interactive Macromedia Flash® format” http://www.navy.mil/allhands.asp?x=search

(4) I wish to thank Gene Slover for allowing me to reproduce the article on the USS Ward from All Hands Magazine. I first found the article on Gene’s excellent site, “Gene Slover’s US Navy Pages”. He has a tremendous amount of excellent information on a broad range of topics there. Gene is a WW II vet. I highly recommend spending some time checking out his site:

(5) http://archives.starbulletin.com/2002/08/29/news/story1.html

(6) The Pearl Harbor Attack – USS Ward Action Report


(8) The South Pacific Express, pg. 29.

2 Responses to “Hartwell T. Doughty and the War’s First Shot”

  1. padresteve August 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Nice article! Well done and really informative article about the USS Ward, Pearl Harbor and RDML Doughty.

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